@arafiq Great write up. I’ve never heard Harbeth. I loved the Carreras but chose my Salks over them mostly because the finish on the Salks were more to my liking and I had already paid for them. It was very, very close, though. I made a video about the Carreras, in case you’re interested.
One thing about the Fritz speakers - they took a LONG time to break-in, but they finally got there and sound beautiful and they ROCK! I'd say they are more 'rock and roll' speakers than Harbeths are.... I also had to adjust my seating distance so I'd get the bass converging there from both speakers - that's when I could really feel it.
Wonderful comparo and it relates like a saga of old: the hero needs to make a choice he can live with that involves small tradeoffs that are more in the realm of quality than quantity. A tough choice awaits you.
Do you stay with what you're comfortable with or take the chance that something new will outlast a long, positive first impression. Best of luck.
At least you're not cleaning out the Augean Stables.
All the best,
larsman149 posts11-04-2021 1:09amInteresting comparisons! I've got a pair of Fritz Carrerra BE's and Harbeth Super SL-5; right now the Fritz's are what I'm using in my 2-channel system. I don't know whether I'm going to keep or sell the Harbeths....
The Harbeth Super HL5 non-Plus is flawed in comparison to the SHL5 Plus. I have owned the SHL5 for 7 years before switching to the SHL5+ which I currently own. If I were in your shoes I would sell the SHL5, especially when the Fritz Carrerra BE had taken the spot in the main system.
I love my Fritz Carrera BE Speakers. At the time I was considering buying a pair, I was looking for a walnut veneer to match my decor but Fritz did not have any in stock. Fritz went to his supplier and took photos of raw veneer and let me choose which one I wanted. He is a real stand up guy and was great to do business with. These speakers sound incredible out of the box but after about 200 hours they really improve....better bass, more refined high’s, etc. These speakers top to bottom are the most balanced that I have heard in any stand mount and I have owned quite a few. Fritz Speakers are just incredible for what you get. I can’t imagine ever selling them.
I had a long conversation with "Fritz" on the phone about a year ago. He told me for ROCK do NOT get the CARRERA BE but the Carbon model instead (the 7 I think?). The Harbeth 30 Models are also the last Harbeth you would want to use for Rock n Roll. Great review but If your primarily a Rocker I wouldnt "Bite" on these models.
I have a Qualiton 50 coming in so betting they will perform ROCK better with Nenuphar’s, Fleetwood Deville’s, Cornwall IV, Volti's and a bunch of other speakers in my inventory.
Harbeth 30 Models are also the last Harbeth you would want to use for Rock n Roll. Great review but If your primarily a Rocker I wouldnt "Bite" on these models.
i would agree with this statement... the mon 30's to me are a dedicated, somewhat narrowly focused speaker for monitoring of vocals and acoustic instruments -- for this purpose they are wonderful -- but they don’t try to (and cannot) produce proper wideband frequency response, especially in the bass region -- subwoofers and proper integration is a must if one desires full range response
that said, modern harbeths are pretty good at power handling and playing reasonably loud, much more so that older bbc style monitors
for rockers and the like, the shl5, compact 7 and of course mon 40’s are better suited
Hey guys, I really appreciate the positive feedback.
@hilde45 -- thanks for providing the link to your video. I must say the content and production value is better than many regular youtube reviewers. It's good to know that your impressions were so similar to mine.
@ozzy62 -- you make a good point about break in. The speakers have a little over 50 hours at this point. I need to ask Fritz what he recommends for a reasonable number of hours before judging it critically.
I'm going to make two further changes over the weekend. First, I'll add a sub to see if it helps with bass. Second, I will move both the Carreras and the 30.1s to the main listening room to see how they scale with better electronics and room treatments. I'll share my findings here.
@tvad -- you ask a great question. I agree that making an emotional connection is a much better yardstick for measuring long term satisfaction. In the past I've owned speakers that thrilled me during the first few weeks but I got bored after a while. It took me a while to realize that what they were missing was an emotional connection. The Harbeth 30.1 (also P3esrs) are one of the few speakers where I am able to, despite them not being all rounders for a wide range of music.
I'm going to put the 30.1s back in my system for a final round of comparisons.
@riaa_award_collectors_on_facebook -- congrats on getting the Qualiton a50i. I bought one a few months ago and it is by far the best I've owned. I've never owned the megabuck amps but for anything under $10k, the a50i's are phenomenal. I thought at one point you were considering the x200 also. Do you also have that one, or will you be swapping it with a50i?
Of all the speakers out there I want to hear, Fritz speakers are right up at the top.
I am not surprised with your findings, and find it “comforting” when my thought experiments are confirmed:)
Many reasons why his speakers sound the way they do, obviously, but one that is I would argue critical, are his crossovers.
Two inductors and a resistor. Drivers in series. No capacitors. He uses the Acoustic Reality Series Crossover. There is no online calculator for this online that you can plop parameters into and out pops a crossover design. These have to be done by ear.
Everything you have described about the sonic signature is exactly my experience with the same xover in my diy projects.
Someone had posted here about his speakers and how they showed an easy load to the amp. I went to Fritz site, and he references the xover in his description of each speaker.
The xover is a patented design that was make open to the public years ago. This with a caveat - you had to credit Acoustic Reality if you used their design in a commercially available speaker.
Again, much appreciated your write up!
@perkri -- I agree with your assessment about the crossover design in the Carrera. I think that’s probably the main ingredient in his secret sauce for building such wonderful speakers. Before reading up on these speakers I had not even heard of this type of design. Fritz has definitely done his homework here.
@jjss49 -- have you had a chance to listen to the 30.2 model? From what I’ve read, it’s moving more in the direction of the so-called ’modern’ sound. Apparently, it is voiced closer to the SHL5+. Of course, this is based on what I’ve read, no personal experience. Wondering if anyone was able to compare the 30.1s with 30.2s and can validate what I've been reading.
I have put on more hours on the Carrera BEs, and they're definitely improving, especially the midrange and bass. The slight thinness that I heard in the midrange area is pretty much gone now.
I also want to mention that the VTL IT-85 driving these speakers is such a perfect match. When I acquired the amp from my friend, I had every intention to sell it. But boy, has this amp won me over. I had posted a for sale ad a few days ago, which I eventually took down. This amp is definitely a keeper. The more I listen, the more it grows on me. This is my first amp based on EL34 and I must admit the 'slow burn' is very addictive.
i agree w jack
call fritz and talk to him, he is very accessible and easy to talk to!
phone # is on his website
i would say in the case of any good speaker maker, fritz has a certain sound he shoots for, that he thinks is 'right' - the way i would describe it is it is sweet/smooth treble and mids, good texture and body in the mids, zero harshness/false sense of detail and forwardness, full balanced bass response (outstanding for a smallish standmount)... his beryllium tweet models give a touch more resolution and 'insight' whereas the carbon models are luscious and imminently listenable
@arafiq nice comparison, I’d love to check out Fritz. I have the newer M30xd model, and before that the M40.2 anniversary. I have read a lot online that the 30.1 were closed in compared to the newer models in the treble, but I never owned that version. I can say, though not the best comparison, I was very surprised when I went from Magico A3 with the beryllium tweet to the Harbeths that the M40s had a lot more information in the treble - they were brighter, that is. This was with Luxman SS gear.
I replaced Harbeth Super HL-5's with Fritz Carrera BE's. Both great speakers, and sound completely different, but I found Fritz's speakers to work better with the rock and reggae I mostly listen to, and they have better bass in my room. Now I'm using KLH Model 5's - a smaller speaker just cannot sound like a box with a 10" woofer...
If I interpret the above correctly, you went from Magico A3 to Harbeth M40.2 Anniversary, and then to M30 XD. Is this correct? Disregarding the difference in bass performance between the 40.2 and 30 XD, how different are these speakers in terms of clarity, detail and openness?
Interesting thoughts on the difference between the Magico A3 and Harbeth M40.2 Anniversary.
@larsman Personally, I think Fritz is a good fit for small to mid-sized rooms. As good as they are, they're not a good fit for large rooms. They still sound amazing in my home office (12x13). The sound they produce is so balanced, nothing stands out or is recessed, that I can listen to them for hours at a time with no listening fatigue. With the 30.1s (which I still have and rotate frequently), there are times I wish they had more upper end reach which the Fritz provides in spades.
Just a quick update ... I borrowed a Rogers High Fidelity 65-v integrated amp from a fellow audiophile. The amp is not very powerful but I was surprised how well it drove the Harbeth SHL5+ speakers in my main listening room. Okay, it sounds good at moderate volume but gets a little bright if you go louder. I also tried it with Harbeth M30.1s in my study. Not a great match.
Finally, I tried the amp with Fritz Carrera BEs and this proved to be a fantastic pairing. These speakers are very capable of bringing out the EL34 SET magic in full force. I'm hearing a holographic soundstage with nicely fleshed out midrange. There is more air around the instrument and the overall sound is very musical. The surprising thing is that I don't miss a sub at all. I prefer listening to the amp in triode mode. It also has an ultra linear setting but it loses some of the sweetness and that special sauce. I'm really enjoying the sound so far.
@arafiq - it's amazing the amount of good sounding bass that those little Fritz speakers can put out. Certainly more than my Harbeths. The only problem I had with them was it took about 2 months or so before they were broken in properly and sounded just right... Before that, it sounded like that various frequency ranges were not talking to each other.
@larsman Agreed. The Fritz do have a very long break-in period. But eventually everything does come together very nicely. I can't believe how good the speakers are sounding with the Rogers 65-v2 -- it's not a powerful amp but there is something so seductive about it. Just pulls you in.
The Op just decided to sell his Fritz 6 months after this written review. How about you? Did you keep the Fritz or the Harbeth? I will not be surprized if you choose to let Fritz go IF you adore/crave for the midrange more than everything else which is the main reason Audiophiles loves Harbeth. Any bookshelf that has low end extended down to 30hz will compromise the midrange performance. That is physics.
I want to be clear that the reason I'm selling the Fritz speakers has nothing to do with its performance or any shortcomings -- none whatsoever. I still believe that this is an awesome, balanced, and modern speaker that can stand toe to toe with anything in the ~$5k range.
I had a lot of damage done to the wood floors in my house due to a burst pipe. Wife was not happy about dipping into our savings for the repairs, thus the reason for selling my second/home office system. Unfortunately, I had to sell the Rogers amp, and speakers are next. I will also be selling my Denafris Ares II dac as well as the Sonore opticalRendu bundle in the next few days.
I still think the Fritz Carrera BE is a better all-rounder and provides better value compared to Harbeth 30.1. In fact, I'm quite certain I will buy another Fritz speaker when I'm financially ready to setup my office system again. I'm really sad to let the office system go, but right now I've got bigger fish to fry :(
@lanx0003 - I sold the Harbeths; I still have the Fritz's 'cause I love 'em and they don't take up much space in my closet, but I'm using KLH Model 5's for my 2-channel setup now. A 10" woofer is a 10" woofer, and the speakers sound great for rock and reggae, which is what I listen to; bass is THERE and hits you in the gut, but without being at all bloated or unclear. If you like to rock, Fritz speakers would do a lot better job than Harbeths, I would think, though for jazz and classical and the like, I'd go with Harbeth.
I finally decided that the Fritz speakers are just too good not to keep. I know it’s not a big name brand like Harbeth or other speakers, but after trying a number of bookshelf speakers over the last 5-7 years, the value the Carrera BEs provide is unbeatable. I took my for sale ad off and will be keeping these beauties after all.
Since I sold my other, more expensive, equipment to raise funds for the repairs, I’m currently driving these speakers with a very simple setup. I’m using a Bluesound Node 2i (older version) feeding the Nobsound NS-02G pure class A amp - 15 watts. This amp is based on a very old and simple class A design, and believe it or not, costs less than $280. I will admit that my belief system has been shaken to the core. This amp is performing so well that I can’t believe it costs less than $280. It is driving the Carrera BEs with ease and really letting the speakers shine.
The amp is a copy of the John Lindsay Hood class A amplifier which was Hood’s attempt to produce a solid state version of the Mullard 5/10. I must say this SS amp is about as close to decent tube sound that I’ve heard at this price point.
I will say one more thing ... this amp sounds considerably better than the Rogue Audio Blackhawk that I had last year. Color me impressed.
This also shows that the Carrerra BE's can easily be driven by low wattage amps and not lose most of their magic. If anyone wants to experiment with low-wattage or SET amps, these speakers will not disappoint. I can't believe the amount of tight and tuneful bass the speakers are producing from just 15 class A watts.
The only complain I have is that there seems to be a slight upper mid glare on some songs, but let's be serious -- this amp only costs $280. It's also brand new so I'll let it run for a few days.
Excellent review, very informative. I have heard both Harbeths and Fritz' speakers at several audio shows and was never moved by the sound of the Harberth's and their prices for such a plebian design never made any sense. Fritz' speakers are easy to love for their excellent performance and are quite affordable. I put them in the same league as the various Salk Audio speakers, all of them that I have heard sounded -- and looked -- outstanding. I never got the allure of Harbeth speakers. On my bucket list would be a pair of DeVore speakers.